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Synthetic Marijuana Expands to Florida

May 04, 2018

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County has confirmed two recent cases of potentially life-threatening vitamin k-dependent antagonist coagulopathy that has been associated with synthetic cannabinoid use. Both individuals were likely exposed from contaminated “spice,” which is a synthetic form of marijuana.

Investigations into these cases have found evidence of brodifacoum, a type of rat poison, in many of the patients and in the synthetic marijuana products that they had reported using recently. DOH-Hillsborough advises against using all synthetic marijuana products because the effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, serious or even life-threatening.

Consumers can buy synthetic cannabinoids in convenience stores, from individual drug dealers, or online as incense or natural herbal products. Potentially contaminated products may be labeled as: synthetic cannabinoids, fake pot, fake weed, legal weed, spice, K-2, AK-47, Mr. Happy, Scooby Snax, Kush, and/or Kronic.

Nationwide, at least seven synthetic cannabinoid product samples related to this outbreak have tested positive for brodifacoum. While symptoms may vary, they may include bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, blood in urine or stool, excessively heavy menstrual bleeding, back or flank pain, altered mental status, feeling faint or fainting, loss of consciousness, or collapse. People exhibiting these symptoms should call 911 immediately.

The DOH is working with the CDC and other states to identify and investigate possible cases. Hospitals, EMS and other health care providers have been asked to be on the lookout for other potential patients.

DOH-Hillsborough works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.